Stock - Emirates airline
Emirates has stopped all flights to Nigeria following the curtailing of the fund release. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: The airline body IATA (International Air Transport Association) said Nigeria should prioritize the release of airline funds before “more damage is done'.

This comes a day after Dubai’s Emirates airline said it would suspend all flights to the African country from September 1 due to blocked funds. The carrier said it had made “considerable” efforts to initiate dialogue with relevant authorities for an urgent intervention.

According to IATA, the amount blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government grew to $464 million in July.

“This is airline money, and its repatriation is protected by international agreements in which Nigeria participates,” Kamil Alawadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice-President Africa and the Middle East, told Gulf News in a statement.

“IATA’s many warnings that failure to restore timely repatriation will hurt Nigeria with reduced air connectivity are proving true with the withdrawal of Emirates from the market,” said Alawadhi. “Airlines cannot be expected to fly if they cannot realize the revenue from ticket sales.”